Perhaps Basho was the greatest teacher—
seventeen breath sounds for a jug of wine;
no tips on how to approach publishers;

no pissing contests for the greatest line.
Just forge the renga’s links and then drift off
along your lonely, narrow path again,

a lone figure approaching the Great North.



I act like a dick many times a day
and you’ve learned to live with my dickishness,
but still, this very evening when you laid

down on the wet grass in your dark red dress,
I complained about tricky light levels,
how these shots wouldn’t come out at their best

instead of telling you how beautiful
you looked in the failing and fragile light
that no camera could ever catch in full.

Happy Birthday my sweet love. Goodnight.


It’s typical that for the final batch
of Cantos I’m beset by writers block.
Perhaps the best ideas have all been hatched

and now I’m counting days, eyeing the clock,
repeating myself, treading tepid water,
chalk scoring cell walls, recounting stock.

To write of happiness can be compared to
trying to make pottery from porridge.
Contentment is a greater bane for writers

than searching for a word to rhyme with “orange”.


After baby girl goes beddy byes
and dinner’s eaten before it goes cold
boredom saunters back in from outside

to help us locate the remote control.


As Autumn TV schedules click into gear
and families settle down in living rooms,
I think of the Nuraghe Palmavera,

those pokey little neolithic domes,
a flint head’s throw from the Sardinian coast.
I doubt each modest household stayed alone

come nightfall, nor played dinner party hosts
for that sweet couple that lived two huts down.
No doubt the people of that cramped outpost

converged round fire,  ripped rare horseflesh from bone
sang their hearts out over distant waves,
within the shadow of the largest dome,

the place where the important people lived.


I don’t know how Bacon could have worked
within his hoarder’s hell of old paint brushes
and tins of turpentine, perhaps the stark

monochrome backgrounds of his canvases
could only exist in his painted world
and bland, corporate penthouse offices

where no artistic reveries unfurl,
despite the spot paintings and skyline views
of London streets where Foxtons minis trawl

for where the artsy types are moving to.


The most the Jazz bar patrons see of me
is when I slink outside with a bin bag,
loaded with plate scrapings and nappies.

Imagine if I ran in, lost my rag,
and freestyled beatnik poems to the squeal
of saxes high pitched as slaughterhouse pigs?

I doubt we’d recreate the birth of Howl,
it would only kick up a local stink.
Today’s jazz isn’t counter cultural

it’s just a pop commodity, like Punk…


If your mum promised me a night of fun,
then threw me a set of joke shop paps
before heading off to town on her own,

I’d probably also throw an epic strop
and pound the walls, causing the flat to shake.
I get it, this bottle’s a load of crap,

but come on girl, at least the milk ain’t fake.

Canto CCCL

A young Korean couple, tall and slender
practice the same balletic exchange.
She twirls,  catches his palm, attempts to wander

beyond the bubble of his arms’ wide span,
then stalls at the meridian of his grip.
They catch breath then repeat the move again

about a dozen times before they stop
and repose on the station platform bench.
Across from them, I squeeze the chubby chops

of baby daughter,  off with mum for lunch
in Peckham Rye, two measly stops away,
and yet I wish our goodbyes wouldn’t launch

them out of my patriarchal embrace,
I wish instead the gestures would repeat
as the world freezes on its spin through space,

and life’s a dance through which we never part.


I pity those gold medalists who now
must find another path to amble down
with no track lines or baying crowds to show

the fortuitous corners they must turn
after the big sponsors have rode the buzz
of their triumph until the spark is gone—

before the speech circuit, reality shows
and openings of musty village fetes.
I empathise a little for I know

that all these quirky Cantos that I write
will soon be relics in the cyber cloud
when I down tools in almost a fortnight

to find some other ways to be ignored.

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